Speaking about converting cars, one of the fascinating conversions that happened in recent weeks is the conversion of some of the car industry's key executives. It seems as though some fundamental shift happened beyond just popular pressure related to climate change research - and my speculation is the shift has to do with the amount of Toyota Prius cars sold in car dealerships around the world. Just to give you a bit of sampling from a great article by Greg Hoffman -
Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally said Monday that global warming is real, man made and caused in part by auto emissions - in an email to Ford employees he said
"I firmly believe we are at an inflection point in the world's history as it relates to climate change and energy security. The time for debating whether climate change is real has past It is time for a conversation about what we, as a society, intend to do to address it,"
General Motors Corp. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the U.S. government needs to take a Manhattan Project-like approach to creating a national energy policy, bringing the best minds in the country to bear on the issue of energy sustainability and independence. GM's spokesperson, Greg Martin, said
"As we've said from L.A. to Capitol Hill, we see it as both a business necessity and as our obligation to society to develop advanced technologies that run on diverse sources of energy to lessen the automobile's impact on the environment."
To complete the Big 3 American car makers, you have to really go to the source - Lee Iacocca himself. He just released his new book on lack of leadership in American business. While I have not read the book, so don't take this as a recommendation to read it, but he had a great quote in Fortune on a topic that I can relate to
Iacocca says "...I live in L.A. now. [Former DaimlerChrysler chairman] Jürgen Schrempp asked me to come work for him, and I said, "Where do I have to live?" When he said, "Stuttgart," I said, "Forget it."..." [sorry, I went on a tangent]
but the real quote he has is about the solution for the car industry
[Fortune] What can the auto industry do?
[Iacocca] Plug-in hybrids. I think they're virtually here now. We've still got to get better batteries, of course, but hybrids are good. Expensive and complex, but they do the job and get good gas mileage. That's the wave of the future.
[Fortune] Some people are betting on hydrogen-powered fuel cells.
[Iacocca] I think that's way off. Where are you going to get all that hydrogen? How are you going to store it in the car? How are you going to distribute it? That's a long-term problem.
Given that the car industry seems now to convert into the hybrid wave that generated a lot of consumer demand, It probably means that the next wave of technology is right around the corner - which is great news for the environment. If the next step gets closer to zero emissions - we are going to be in great shape.